A LAK of Direction: Misalignment Between the Goals of Learning Analytics and its Research Scholarship

Benjamin A. Motz, Yoav Bergner, Christopher A. Brooks, Anna Gladden, Geraldine Gray, Charles Lang, Warren Li, Fernando Marmolejo-Ramos, Joshua D. Quick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning analytics (LA) defines itself with a focus on data from learners and learning environments, with corresponding goals of understanding and optimizing student learning. LA research, ideally, should make use of data from learners engaged in education systems, should measure student learning, and should improve these learning environments. However, a common concern among members of the LA research community is that these standards are not being met. In two analyses, we reviewed a large, comprehensive sample of research articles from the proceedings of the three most recent Learning Analytics and Knowledge (LAK) conferences and from articles published in the Journal of Learning Analytics (JLA) in 2020, 2021, and 2022. We found that 37.4% of articles do not analyze data from learners in an education system, 71.1% do not include any measure of learning outcomes, and 89% do not attempt to intervene in the learning environment. We contrast these findings with the stated definition of LA and infer, like others before us, that LA scholarship presently lacks clear direction toward its stated goals. We invite critical discussion of these findings from the LA community, through open peer commentary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Learning Analytics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 30 2023


  • Learning analytics
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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